U.S. Episcopal Church urges action on climate change

April 1, 2008

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, 14 March 2007/SIPHIWE SIBEKOThe Episcopal Church has been riven by the issue of ordaining gay clergy and the broader issue of gay rights. Now Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has taken a stand on an issue which is probably not as divisive, at least in Episcopal and Anglican circles: climate change.

In a letter to the U.S. Senate on Monday, Schori urged the body to “take up climate change legislation at the earliest possible moment.”

“Climate change is a threat not only to God’s creation but to all of humanity,” Schori said, noting that her concerns were formed by both her faith and her training as a scientist. She has a background in oceanography, making her perhaps better qualified than most spiritual leaders to comment on the issue.

Schori said that climate change caused by carbon fuel emissions exacerbated poverty, creating a vicious cycle as poverty itself contributed to global warming as the poor felled forests and sought other sources of energy.

U.S. evangelicals have made similar points when calling for action on the issue. While America’s roughly 75 million evangelicals far outnumber the 2.4 million member Episcopal Church, the former are deeply divided on the issue.

An iceberg breaks off the Knox Coast in the Australian Antarctic Territory, 12 Feb 2008/poolThe evangelical left and center have embraced it under the banner of “creation care” while the evangelical right remains suspicious of calls to reduce U.S. carbon emissions, partly because of their close ties to the business wing of the Republican Party, partly because some see humanity having “dominion” over nature.

But even the conservative Southern Baptist Convention, America’s largest evangelical denomination, said recently that it had neglected the issue in the past but would take stronger though unspecified stances in the future.

The mainline Episcopal Church may not have such a sharp divide on the issue, which will be a welcome relief to many in its fragmenting fold.

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On Kendall Harmon’s blog the Easter message of Mrs Schori (tinyurl.com/3865re) versus that of Bp Martin Minns (tinyurl.com/2lvz6h) is compared and contrasted. Mrs Schori’s makes one passing reference to the resurrection and moves quickly on to Easter eggs and flatulent cows. Very little evidence that it is even from a Christian denomination. Perhaps this is why it is the fastest declining denomination in American.

Perhaps it is to distract from all the lawsuits that she is leveling against those that flee from her persecution of the orthodox. Now it seems that she might face a law suit herself (tinyurl.com/2mmuh2) for multiple violations of canon law in her attempt to depose an 88 year old retired bishop who had the audacity to participate in a ordination service at a church that had withdrawn and affiliated with an African primate.

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